Peter Kafka

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Potential Yahoo CEO David Kenny Now Much More Available

Akamai president David Kenny has stepped down after a year on the job — and in the midst of Yahoo’s CEO search, where his name has come up as a possible replacement for fired CEO Carol Bartz.

Kenny is also a Yahoo board member — joining early last year — and had quickly become one of the major forces in pushing for change at the company in the wake of the troubled Bartz regime.

In a statement distributed along with Akamai’s Q3 earnings, Kenny said he wants to “to return to my first passion of pursuing emerging opportunities on the consumer Internet.”

You can decide for yourself whether Yahoo represents an “emerging” opportunity or something else.

Sources said the departure from the networking company was mutual, although there has been an increasing amount of tension over Kenny’s involvement on the Yahoo board, which has been working on a massive strategic review.

Kenny, who was the initial leader of the effort, stepped down from that board task and also recused himself from any involvement in the simultaneous search for a new CEO.

Whether he will get the job is not a done deal by any means. He is among several candidates Yahoo has been contemplating pursuing, after only recently hiring Heidrick & Struggles for its executive search.

In fact, it’s not entirely clear Kenny wants to be CEO of Yahoo or if he would want to return to his roots at a consumer advertising agency. Another issue: He currently lives in Boston.

Before coming to Akamai, he was managing partner of VivaKi, the media and digital arm of marketing giant, Publicis Groupe. He came to the French concern after it bought relationship marketing services firm Digitas, which Kenny ran.

All that advertising experience is one of the reasons he is being looked at by Yahoo, which is contemplating doubling down in online advertising platforms and products if it does not sell.

Many assumed that Kenny’s move to the Web platform company meant that it would become more actively involved in Web media itself. But Akamai didn’t make any major moves or acquisitions during his tenure.

Meanwhile, back at Akamai, Kenny’s title will be assumed by CEO Paul Sagan, who had previously served as president as well.

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I’m a giant vat of creative juices.

— David Pogue on why he’s joining Yahoo